The COVID-19 pandemic has tragically impacted businesses all over the world, one of the most hard-hit being the healthcare industry. Here in the Philippines, a number of those with health concerns have been unable to consult with their doctors due to congested hospitals and the lack of transportation options; meanwhile, others have chosen to forgo check-ups for fear of contracting the coronavirus.
To aid the current situation, the Department of Health has recognised the need for telemedicine services across the country. In line with this, hospitals and clinics (predominantly in Metro Manila) have put together systems in order to make teleconsultation an accessible option for patients. Telehealth services (hotline services dedicated to connecting callers with licensed doctors), which have been around for quite some time, remain to be another available choice.
So, how does telemedicine work exactly?
Telemedicine is no new concept; in fact, it’s actually been around since the 1950s. However, it is a pretty new idea to a lot of us here in the Philippines. Basically, it is the remote care of patients through the help of technology. In simpler terms, it allows doctors to diagnose their patients and prescribe treatments over the phone or (more ideally) via video call.
By booking a teleconsultation with your physician, you will be able to receive medical advice without the need for physician contact. As you consult your doctor from home, you will find out whether a trip to the hospital is truly needed — whether it’s for a face-to-face consultation or a physical examination.
But of course, please remember that telemedicine is not an adequate alternative to a face-to-face consultation when it comes to more serious cases. Make it a point to schedule an in-person check-up with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms that require urgent care.
Metro Manila hospitals currently offering telemedicine
1. The Medical City
The Medical City (TMC) has recently resumed regular operations and established a “new normal”, putting extra precautions in place to protect their patients’ health, safety, and wellness. While outpatient consultations are open to those with prior appointments, telemedicine services are also available.
Patients may schedule their appointments from Monday to Saturday, between 8am and 5pm. These can be made via email, over the phone, or through TMC’s official Facebook page.
2. Makati Medical Center
Makati Medical Center’s (MMC) doors are once again open to patients, with new and extensive safety measures now being implemented. In addition to this, their telemedicine services remain to be an available option for patients.
Take note that to schedule a teleconsultation with MMC, you must have an existing doctor-patient relationship with your chosen physician. Patients will also be required to register for Zoom and PayMaya accounts in order to consult with their doctors and settle the necessary fees.
For more information, refer to Makati Medical Center’s official Facebook page.
3. St. Luke’s Medical Center
St. Luke’s Medical Center has set up their teleconsultation platform complete with a teleconcierge to assist you while making your appointments. Patients of both the Global City and Quezon City hospitals will be able to enjoy this service. You can make an appointment with your chosen hospital by calling their landline or sending them a message via SMS or Viber.
At the same time, St. Luke’s recognises the need for face-to-face consultations for more critical health-related concerns. This being said, outpatient services are available for urgent cases.
For more information, refer to St. Luke’s Medical Center’s official Facebook page.
4. Asian Hospital
Another hospital in Metro Manila that has resumed normal operations, Asian Hospital has established a new set of guidelines in order to protect their patients’ safety. Their teleconsultation services are also accessible from Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm. To proceed, patients must download the Cisco WebEx app and make their payments via Visa or Mastercard.
Additionally, Asian Hospital’s pharmacy also accepts E-prescriptions; orders can be picked up in person or via a third-party courier service.
5. Providence Hospital
Providence Hospital’s telemedicine services are available for anyone in need of medical advice with regard to mild symptoms such as headache, cough, colds, stomach pain, and muscle pain, among others. This is also recommended for patients with conditions that require them to make follow-up consultations for blood sugar monitoring and lab tests. Those showing more urgent symptoms are advised to schedule face-to-face consultations with their physicians.
To schedule a teleconsultation with Providence Hospital, patients must have a Viber account. Payments are made through BPI or BDO.
For more information, refer to Providence Hospital’s official Facebook page.
6. Cardinal Santos Medical Center
Cardinal Santos Medical Center has reopened its doors to patients, however only those with confirmed schedules will be allowed entry. Those without urgent symptoms may opt for contact-free teleconsultations instead.
To schedule an appointment, bookings should be made via Cardinal Santos’ e-consultation website. You may choose from payment options that include PayMaya, Visa, Mastercard, or JCB Card.
For more information, refer to Cardinal Santos Medical Center’s official Facebook page.
7. Centuria Medical Makati
While Centuria Medical Makati has reopened with new health and safety protocols, their telemedicine services remain available to patients. Appointments may be made between 10am and 4pm from Monday to Sunday, depending on their physician’s availability.
To proceed with teleconsultation, patients must make their appointments via Viber. As for consultation fees, they can choose among the following options: GCash, PayMaya, or BDO.
For more information, refer to Centuria Medical Makati’s official Facebook page.
8. Capitol Medical Center
Capitol Medical Center has made it easier to seek medical advice from home. Teleconsultation is available from Monday to Friday, between 8am and 5pm. Patients can make their appointments via call, SMS, or Facebook Messenger. Meanwhile, payments via Metrobank or GCash are accepted.
For more information, refer to Capitol Medical Center’s official Facebook page.
9. UST Hospital (Family Medicine)
The University of Sto. Tomas Hospital’s Family Medicine Department presently offers telemedicine services for non-urgent cases from Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. To schedule an appointment, you can get in touch via call, SMS, Viber, or Facebook Messenger.
For more information, refer to UST Hospital Family Medicine: Teleconsultation’s official Facebook page.
Clinics in Manila offering telemedicine services
1. UP-PGH Pain Clinic
While PGH has been designated as a COVID-19 referral centre, the UP-PGH Pain Clinic is still open for health concerns unrelated to the coronavirus. At the same time, patients of the clinic may schedule telemedicine services via call, SMS, or email. This service is available from Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4pm.
For more information, refer to Philippine General Hospital’s official Facebook page.
2. MyHealth Clinic
This private health clinic with several branches at the metro is currently offering online consultation services. MyHealth makes it easy to schedule your teleconsultation appointments — all you have to do is head to their official website and head to their “Products” tab, then click on “Online Consultations.” You can then make your payments via credit card or PayPal.
3. American Eye Center
American Eye Center has reopened their Shangri-La Plaza clinic, with a strict by appointment-only policy for face-to-face consultations. New and existing patients with non-urgent eye-related concerns may opt for teleconsultation from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm.
To set up your appointment, send a message to AEC via Viber or SMS at least 24 hours ahead. Teleconsultation will take place via Zoom; afterwards, prescriptions and/or medical certificates will be sent to you via email.
Telehealth services you can subscribe to
1. Konsulta MD
While telemedicine is a new concept to a lot of us, Konsulta MD has actually been around for the past five years. This telehealth service was established as an alternative to visiting the ER (for non-critical cases); instead, patients can enjoy 24/7 access to medical advice from licensed doctors from home.
To enjoy Konsulta MD’s services, you’ll have to purchase a subscription. Those with access to the App Store or GooglePlay may download their new app, too. Globe and TM subscribers may avail of affordable plans that they can share with the family, and these can be deducted from their monthly postpaid plans or prepaid load. Non-Globe or TM subscribers may also avail of annual subscriptions.
A telemedicine company with operations in the Philippines, Switzerland, India, and the Middle East, Medgate is a one-stop shop for daily medical care. Open 24/7, they can be accessed via their hotline. You also have the option to purchase a one-year subscription for unlimited consultations.
Once you make a call, you will first be triaged by a telemedicine assistant; after an initial assessment, you will be connected to a specialist and can proceed with your teleconsultation. Finally, you will receive an E-prescription (if needed) and can avail of medicine delivery via Medgate’s pharmacy partner, MedExpress.
Kitika, a subscription-based telemedicine service, allows you to consult with a doctor via chat, over the phone, or through video call. All you’ll have to do is sign up for a count and choose a subscription plan that works for you and your family.
Upon calling, one of Kitika’s registered nurses will first assess your condition before transferring you to one of their licensed physicians. During your teleconsultation, your doctor will either recommend a treatment plan or refer you to one of their partner specialists. Kitika will email you your E-prescription afterwards; in addition, you can also avail of their medicine delivery option should you need it.
4. One TeleHealth Clinic
An online multispeciality clinic, One TeleHealth Clinic makes it possible for patients to consult with licensed physicians for non-urgent health concerns. Covered specialities include internal medicine, OB-GYN (obstetrics-gynecology), HEENT (head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat), pediatrics, neurology, and surgery. To set up your appointment, head to their Facebook page and send them a message.
For more information, refer to One Telehealth Clinic’s One TeleHealth Clinic Official Facebook Page.
5. Telemedicine in Taguig City
A Taguig City initiative, this telehealth service is available to residents from Monday to Saturday, 9am to 6pm. Doctors of various specialisations have set schedules, so make sure to take note of these on Taguig Telemed’s Facebook page.
Whenever a doctor is online, a photo announcement is posted and those seeking medical advice are invited to comment on the photo. The doctors will then attend to those patients, so long as they get in touch during their allotted time slot. Teleconsultation will then proceed via chat, SMS, or video call. After consultation, prescribed medicines are delivered straight to residents’ doorsteps.
For more information, refer to Taguig Telemed’s official Facebook page.
Now more than ever, it’s important to seek medical attention for any health-related concerns. And in accordance with this, we’re happy to hear that the Philippine healthcare industry is stepping up and making it easier for us to get medical advice during a time of physical distancing.
We encourage you to take advantage of these telemedicine services in order to minimise unnecessary trips to the hospital and so we may help ease congestion in hospitals. At the same time, we’d like to reiterate that teleconsultation is not an adequate substitute for face-to-face check-ups, especially for urgent concerns. Keep safe, and let’s all do our part to take better care of our health!